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Guest Commentary

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Jerry Budrick
05/16/2014 6:35 PM

By Stephen Curtis

Guest Commentary

Daniel D’Agostini’s core criticism of incumbent Amador County District 5 Supervisor Brian Oneto is actually a criticism of himself in more than one way. In a recent mailer, the entire case he made against Oneto was that, due to Oneto owning ranch land in District 5, he has had to recuse himself on votes that could present a potential conflict of interest. In characterizing this as a criticism, D’Agostini leaves out quite a bit of relevant information and misleads the voters.

All of the supervisors have, at one time or another, recused themselves. This must be done with even the “appearance” of a conflict of interest. It is against the law to do otherwise. D’Agostini farms and owns land in District 5, and in the last year there was at least one vote he would have had to recuse himself on because of it. D’Agostini also has family members with land holdings and other interests in District 5, and as such would most likely have to recuse himself there as well. So, in the end, I really don’t see how D’Agostini can make the case that he would somehow have to recuse himself any less than any other person with local ties, least of which is Oneto.

Misinformation aside, the real issue here is the entire premise the criticism is based on. When you step back and consider it, people that conduct business and have a stake in the success of their local areas will always have conflicts of interest. There is nothing untoward or out of the ordinary about this. In fact, your local representatives should be people that have a stake in the prosperity of your area. If we, as voters, chose to never elect representation that could have potential conflicts, we would literally be preventing everyone that has skin in the game from being involved in the political process. If you think about it, we want our representatives to feel the pain and impact of their decisions as much as the rest of us do. We want them to have a vested interest in the future of our area.

Oneto has ranched in Amador County all of his life and, as such, has land. He chose to build a family and a life in Amador County. D’Agostini, on the other hand, chose to spend his life building his prosperity outside of the county. Now, after 30 years, he has returned to retire in his childhood home to realize his dreams of small town living (and who can blame him). So, if he wouldn’t have to recuse himself as much as Oneto, it would be because, perhaps, his business interests lie elsewhere? Shouldn’t the job of Amador County Supervisor belong to someone that would take it seriously because it matters to them in a real way? Being a County Supervisor is a job and a sacrifice, not a hobby.

Like Brian Oneto, my wife and I are choosing to pursue our future in Amador County. I want that future to be one of economic prosperity and opportunity not just for myself, but also my peers and my children, should they decide to remain here as adults.

My relationship with Oneto may have started when I took him on as a client. However, after working with him, I now donate time (and business services) to his campaign, because I believe he is the right choice. D’Agostini is the type of person I would be lucky to have as a friend, and I think his heart is in the right place. But Oneto is the type of person I would trust to make the right decisions for the future of Amador County.

The current supervisors may have recused themselves on the occasional vote, but D’Agostini excused himself from Amador County for 31 years. And now he returns and is criticizing someone who chose to stay and do business locally for having local interests? I hope in 31 years, one of my peers doesn’t return from building a life elsewhere and tell me I can’t run for local office because I have too many local relationships. But hey, that’s politics. I guess you can make any negative look like a positive with enough spin.

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